Undergraduate Research Awards

The Giovale Library Undergraduate Research Awards recognize students producing outstanding research projects such as: papers, videos, posters, and blogs that demonstrate information literacy and the effective use of Library resources.

A judging committee comprised of faculty, students, staff and librarians will select 3 prizes:

  • First place: $200
  • Second place: $100
  • Emerging researcher award: $50 for a project from a 100-level course

View the Award Rubric and reflection tips below to understand how submissions are judged.

Questions? Contact Chloe Barnett: 801-832-2266 or cbarnett@westminstercollege.edu


To be eligible for the Giovale Library Undergraduate Research Award you must:

  • Be currently enrolled as a undergraduate at Westminster College;
  • Have completed the research project under consideration for a credit course or under the direction of a faculty member at Westminster College during either the May/Summer 2016, Fall 2016, or Spring 2017 semester;
  • Agree to allow Giovale Library and Westminster College to use your research project and application materials to promote the Award and undergraduate research conducted at the College.
  • Have a faculty member submit a letter of support for your project.

Reflection Tips

In addition to reviewing the judges’ selection rubric, you may find the following questions useful as you reflect on your library research experience.

  • Did this project build on a previous paper or ideas from other classes?
  • In what ways did the library and its resources help shape your ideas for your projects?
  • What did you discover about the tools and techniques for research in the library?
  • What did you learn about finding and evaluating information on your topic, or in your discipline?
  • What discoveries did you make in the Library by chance or coincidence? And, which through thoroughly planned research strategies?
  • What lessons about the general research process did you take away from the experience?
  • Would you do anything differently as a result of what you learned from this research process?

Please note that the judges rely heavily on what they learn of your research through this reflection. You will probably need at least a page or so, or a comparable length multimedia project, to conduct a quality reflection.


Information for Faculty Sponsors

In order for their application to be considered, students must have a letter of support from their instructor. Letters should be emailed to Chloe Barnett (cbarnett@westminstercollege.edu)

What to Address in the Letter

Please focus on how this student’s work meets the award criteria. Discuss the overall intellectual quality of this undergraduate research project and its contribution to the scholarship of the discipline. Your thoughts on how the project demonstrates the following will be especially helpful to the judges in their selection process:

  • Sophistication, originality and/or unusual depth or breadth in the use of library collections, including, but not limited to, printed resources, databases, primary resources and materials in all media;
  • Exceptional ability to select, evaluate, and synthesize library resources and to marshal them in the creation of a project in any medium that show originality and/or has the potential to lead to original research in the future; and,
  • Evidence of significant acquisition of information literacy skills, and the development of a habit of research and inquiry that shows the likelihood of persisting in the future.

It might help for you to view the judges’ Award Rubric, which will help you to understand how we are evaluating your student’s work.

2017 Award Winners

Emerging Researcher Award


Kirandeep Kaur, for her paper, “The Role of Degrowth in the Fight Against Environmental Injustice”

Faculty Advisor: Abigail Perez Aguilera

I strengthened my research skills while writing this paper, and developed new research skills as well. By using Griffin Search and the other databases provided by Giovale library, I was able to find many sources that I could draw upon in my paper. I learned how to use advanced search tools in order to limit my results to academic writings and scholarly articles. I was able to discover key concepts that were a gap in my knowledge by searching using the related terms that were given to me by the sources I found. I also found that good research requires patience. If I had tried to rush my paper, and only use the first couple of sources that came up in my search results, writing my paper would have been very difficult.

Kira Kaur, Reflective Essay

In this paper, Kira presents a compelling, well documented argument about environmental racism and its connections to oppression of marginalized communities. She offers a well-grounded theoretical discussion of theories of oppression and the possible solutions to massive consumption, environmental depredation and oppression. In her paper, Kira presents innovative discussions, bridging theoretical arguments to applied case studies.

Abigail Perez Aguilera, Faculty recommendation

Second Place Winner


Warren Cook, for his paper, “Considering the Threat to Place: A Case Study of Place-Based Relationships to Water in the Modern American West”

Faculty Advisor: Jeff Nichols

In the past year, I found it most challenging to articulate my research question and refine my theoretical approach. I spent hours in conversation, explaining my approach over and over, rewriting my interview questions, and yet I still had times where I felt lost, where I felt like my research would ultimately be for nothing. My head spun with constant questions about each part of my project: Why did I consider the scientific research on the valley inadequate? Why did Flores’ theory of place address this inadequacy? What benefit are human stories in the fights for water in the West? Why did I spend a month talking to people about water? My hope is that I have addressed all these questions in my paper.

Warren Cook, Reflective Essay

Warren thought up the idea; crafted a sophisticated research plan; read extensively in the secondary literature; conducted a series of careful interviews; wrote it up in a thoughtful, eloquent fashion grounded in the best recent scholarship; and presented it at the Honors summer research forum and the Phi Alpha Theta conference. The written result is a politically engaged work of scholarship: this is a place that Warren cares about, but he grounds his arguments in evidence, not emotional advocacy.

Jeff Nichols, Faculty recommendation

First Place Winner


Tim Lindgren, for his paper, “Ecocide, Genocide and the Failure to Protect Alternative Life-Systems”

Faculty Advisor: Leonardo E. Figueroa Helland

This research process has been extremely insightful, and I believe, has prepared me for future academic undertakings. Primarily, the process illuminated the importance of engaging in interdisciplinary approaches by utilizing a myriad of research methods specific to a multiplicity of applicable fields. Further, it drew attention to the value of an organized and structured research plan coupled with an intellectual ‘fluidity’ and ‘flexibility’ in the process of crafting a research paper. Lastly, it enabled me to more accurately understand the services made available by Giovale Library, something which has taught me the importance of quickly identifying the resources at hand—a lesson which I aim to share with my co-students at Westminster College.

Tim Lindgren, Reflective Essay

Tim’s contributions to many discussions across different fields and disciplines is unparalleled. His critical arguments contribute to shape and transform increasingly important discussions about international law and human rights in relation to environmental, social and global justice. This paper, specifically, makes a very timely contribution. Living as we are in the midst of converging environmental and social crises of displacement, Tim’s contentions in favor of tight linkage between the destruction of ecosystems through the advancement of industrial civilization and the destruction of cultures, peoples, livelihoods and lives is urgent today more than ever. Tim’s paper is sophisticated in every way, engaging with the cutting edge discussions by top scholars in the field, coupled with and supported by rigorous theoretical, empirical, legal, historical, qualitative and critical analysis.

Leonardo E. Figueroa Helland, Faculty recommendation